Does rationality demand higher-order certainty?

Synthese 198 (12):11561-11585 (2020)
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Abstract

Should you always be certain about what you should believe? In other words, does rationality demand higher-order certainty? First answer: Yes! Higher-order uncertainty can’t be rational, since it breeds at least a mild form of epistemic akrasia. Second answer: No! Higher-order certainty can’t be rational, since it licenses a dogmatic kind of insensitivity to higher-order evidence. Which answer wins out? The first, I argue. Once we get clearer about what higher-order certainty is, a view emerges on which higher-order certainty does not, in fact, license any kind of insensitivity to higher-order evidence. The view as I will describe it has plenty of intuitive appeal. But it is not without substantive commitments: it implies a strong form of internalism about epistemic rationality, and forces us to reconsider standard ways of thinking about the nature of evidential support. Yet, the view put forth promises a simple and elegant solution to a surprisingly difficult problem in our understanding of rational belief.

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Author's Profile

Mattias Skipper
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

Citations of this work

Be modest: you're living on the edge.Kevin Dorst - 2022 - Analysis 81 (4):611-621.
Higher-Order Evidence.Kevin Dorst - 2024 - In Maria Lasonen-Aarnio & Clayton Littlejohn (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Evidence. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 176-194.
Higher-Order Evidence and the Normativity of Logic.Mattias Skipper - 2020 - In Scott Stapleford & Kevin McCain (eds.), Epistemic Duties: New Arguments, New Angles. New York: Routledge.
Splitting the (In)Difference: Why Fine-Tuning Supports Design.Chris Dorst & Kevin Dorst - 2022 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 11 (1):14-23.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
The Normativity of Rationality.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (210):105-116.
Epistemology of disagreement: The good news.David Christensen - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (2):187-217.

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